Social isolation has always been an issue in Japan. Less do people know that this actually poses a threat to society. There are times when being isolated from others lead to bad behaviors which then result to violent acts. Sometimes, these are hard to eliminate or prevent. This is one of the reasons why it is quite easy to rent a person in the country whom you can talk to. It gives lonely people the chance to communicate with somebody who will listen to their dreams and woes. An expanding “ossan (おっさん)” rental service owned by Takanobu Nishimoto (西本貴信) has been giving everyone the chance to talk to middle-aged men who will hang out with them for an entire hour (or two, or a day). Let’s check it out!
It is said that the most challenging part of living in Japan is loneliness. This isn’t only caused by physical isolation but also depends on the amount of intimacy a person wants and gets. In most cases, this is brought about by major life changes such as work, divorce, or moving to a new place. Most jobs are quite hectic in Japan and almost everybody is busy with their own lives.
According to the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, by the year 2035, more than 30 percent of Japanese households will be one-person households. These people will wake up alone, make their own breakfast, go to work, and come back home to an empty space. One reason behind this is the decreasing number of people who actually want to marry and have families. The cost of having a family is extremely expensive in the country as well. These are some of the factors as to why such renting services are marketed to target these lonely people.
The main cure for loneliness is intimacy. This happens when people are connected together by physical or emotional touch with the latter being the true saving grace. Physical intimacy provides a temporary fix, while emotional intimacy offers a long-term solution. When you develop relationships with people who have similar interests as you, it pulls you out of loneliness. It provides a feeling of being important when somebody listens to what you have to say.
It is quite a sad truth that loneliness also affects a person’s physical condition. For example, it is said that when you are lonely, your immune system is affected and your body completely works in a different way. Mitigating the feelings of loneliness is thus deemed very important.
This is why so many services with different styles of comforting the lonely people were brought up. One of these is a service including a professional cuddler whom you can call to simply snuggle you. Some of them provide physical intimacy by stroking your head or maybe patting your back to help you feel better. Another service provides a sleeping companion wherein you can rent a person who will sleep next to you. This is non-sexual in nature but may be considered an intimate one. Then comes the services wherein you can rent somebody whom you can talk to such as young boys who’ll listen and wipe your tears away, or older men who can give you an advice in life. You can also rent pets for you to pat and snuggle if you like. These are just some of the services which are commonly heard of and seen in Japan as a cure for loneliness.
One of the bizarre rental services you can find in Japan is the Ossan Rental service or middle-aged guy rental. The company started in 2012 and at the beginning, they only had two men options to choose from: CEO Takanobu Nishimoto himself who is a college lecturer and fashion stylist from Osaka; and Mikio Sendou (千藤三樹男), a former baseball player and sports commentator from Gifu (岐阜). But now, the list has actually expanded. All you have to do is visit their website (Japanese only) to see the complete list of ossans for rent.
These middle-aged men are available as buddies whom you can play video games with, have an exceptional conversation with, or as a shopping companion. You can also run errands with them and they can assist you in doing your chores the enjoyable way. They come at an affordable rate of 1,000 yen per hour.
As you may notice, the site can be easily navigated even if you don’t have that much knowledge of Japanese. You just have to virtually put an ossan in your shopping cart, select the number of hours you’d like to rent them for, and check out to pay for them.
There are also so many applicants who want to get involved in the business but the owner is choosing his men carefully and with standards. He is also strict when it comes to the no-touching policy so you have to limit your expectations from what these handsome men can offer. Most of the time, you’ll be chatting in a bar, drinking, or getting meaningful advice on life.
On the website (Japanese only), you can also buy the owner’s book entitled, “Diary of a Rental Ossan (おっさんレンタル日記)” wherein you can check out his life and the years of experience he had in the business.
Since the start of his rental service, Nishimoto said that more than 1,500 people have actually rented him out to date. Around 60 percent of them are repeat customers who just want to talk to him again. Nowadays, the business has a lot of clients patiently waiting to be able to rent an ossan who can serve as their companion, tour guide, social support, or just somebody who will give fashion advice.
At just 1,000 yen per hour, this is considered a bargain in the expensive city of Tokyo (東京). So why not try renting out one of these handsome men who will listen to your complaints, rants, dreams, and woes for an hour or so?
Ossan Rental Website *Japanese only